Fall’s real broadcast battle: The competition for No. 3
With NBC and CBS well ahead, ABC and Fox battle to stay out of basement
October 19, 2016
NBC is almost assuredly going to finish No. 1 this fall, thanks to its two primetime NFL packages.
CBS, with the soon-to-end “Thursday Night Football,” will undoubtedly be No. 2.
The only toss-up is the race for No. 3, and it’s an intriguing competition between ABC and Fox, whose strengths and weaknesses are similar this season.
Right now, ABC has a slight edge, with a 1.8 average adults 18-49 rating this season, according to Nielsen, a tenth ahead of Fox.
Both trail well behind NBC (2.5) and CBS (2.2), but they’re well ahead of the No. 5 network, Telemundo (yep, really, with a 0.7).
ABC and Fox both lack primetime NFL packages, which is their biggest weakness in a TV industry that’s still dominated by the sport, even with its significant ratings declines this fall.
Fox does have a Sunday afternoon package that boosts its ratings every other week when the games spill into primetime, and it also has the World Series, which will likely be the difference-maker between it and ABC this fall.
If the Cubs should make the Series, ratings will be huge. Otherwise, they’ll still represent a boost over Fox’s typical nightly average.
The networks both have some promising new shows this fall. ABC’s “Speechless,” “Designated Survivor” and “American Housewife” all look like keepers, while Fox’s “Lethal Weapon” has done quite well and “Son of Zorn” is at least consistent.
Both networks also have some struggling older shows. Fox’s entire Tuesday lineup has been a disappointment, while ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” has lost much of the promise it showed two years ago.
ABC’s schedule tends to shine in the spring, when the NFL is done and the network’s consistent scripted lineup tends to outdraw the other networks.
This year Fox won’t have “American Idol” to help it revive at midseason, and that’s a big disadvantage for the network, which for years used “Idol” to catapult it from fourth to first come January.
But the network does have the Super Bowl, and that’s a huge equalizer.
In broadcast ratings for the week ended Oct. 16:
Among adults 18-49, NBC averaged a 1.9 rating and a 7 share, followed by CBS and Fox at 1.7/6, ABC at 1.4/5, Telemundo at 0.7/2, Univision and CW at 0.6/2, ION at 0.3/1, UniMás at 0.2/1, Estrella TV, Me-TV, Escape, Grit and Bounce TV at 0.1/0, and MundoMax, Azteca and COZI TV at 0.0/0.
Top five English-language Big Five shows (18-49s): 1. Fox’s “The OT” 5.5; 2. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 4.9; 3. CBS’s “Thursday Night Football” 4.7; 4. Fox’s “Empire” 3.5; 5. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 3.4.
Top five English-language Big Five shows (total viewers): 1. Fox’s “The OT” 15.38 million; 2. CBS’s “NCIS” 14.77 million; 3. CBS’s “Thursday Night Football” 14.49 million; 4. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 14.41 million; 5. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 13.60 million.
Show on the rise: Fox’s “The Simpsons,” Sunday, 8 p.m. The show’s 600th episode, which was also a “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween special, doubled its 18-49 rating week-to-week from a 1.5 to a 3.0.
Show on the decline: CBS’s “Scorpion,” Monday, 10 p.m. The drama fell 19 percent week-to-week among 18-49s, from a 1.6 rating to a 1.3.
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